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CPI(M) planning major campaign in Darjeeling

Friday 1 April 2005, by DAM*Marcus

KOLKATA, MARCH 31. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership in West Bengal is planning a major political campaign in the Darjeeling hills even as there is fresh talk of statehood for the region by senior leaders of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF). The GNLF president, Subash Ghisingh, was recently appointed caretaker-administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council till elections to the Council are held within six months.

Ghisingh’s threat

Mr. Ghisingh, whose earlier demand - that he be given sole charge of the interim administrative arrangement which is now in place - had been met by both the Centre and State Government, is now threatening that there can be no elections to the Council till it is replaced with an "alternative" body. By "alternative" the GNLF means powers that can be equated with that of a separate State, president of the party’s Darjeeling branch committee, Dipak Gurung, told The Hindu over telephone.

With the State leadership of the CPI (M) reiterating that elections will have to be held within the scheduled six months, local party leaders have started preparing to counter any possible move by the GNLF leadership to revive the statehood demand.

Processions and rallies

The CPI (M) along with major Opposition regional parties in the hills will be organising processions and a joint rally in Darjeeling on May 1 where the demand to hold the elections will be raised. The public meeting will also formally mark the launching of a joint political offensive against the GNLF with an eye on the Council polls.

The CPI (M) State Secretary, Anil Biswas, who met leaders of the party’s Darjeeling district committee and the regional parties recently, said efforts would be made to ensure that elections are held within six months.

The CPI (M) will also be publishing a booklet - in Nepali and in Bengali - elucidating the party’s programme to work for the fulfilment of the ethnic aspirations of the Gorkha people through socio-economic and cultural development of the region and its people. It will also seek to `expose’ the hollowness of the argument that such a fulfilment of aspirations can only be achieved through the creation of a new State as espoused by the GNLF leadership.

The booklets are to be distributed across the Darjeeling hills, according to the State’s Urban Development Minister, Ashok Bhattacharjee, who hails from Darjeeling district.

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